Institution-wide language programmes, higher education and blended learning : students’ experience of a virtual learning environment among beginners and post-beginners of French
Ticheler, Nathalie Valerie
In a context of precariousness of Modern Foreign Languages and promotion of e-learning at national level, often referred to as “technology-enhanced learning”, the targeted institution, a “new” university in the United Kingdom, offers an Institution-Wide Language Programme where language classes are presented as a blended learning package of face-to-face classes coupled with the use of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).\ud \ud Operating within a hermeneutical phenomenological approach and constructionist epistemological principles, this thesis seeks to investigate the students’ experience of a VLE among beginners and post-beginners of French and in particular whether their level (beginners or post-beginners), status (undergraduates, post-graduates or external students) or the lecturers in charge of the various groups for the face-to-face component of the module, have any significance on their experience.\ud \ud At a time when the students’ feedback and the quality of their learning experience are considered with care by institutions of Higher Education, this thesis contributes to an enhanced knowledge of the students’ experience in connection with a VLE, obtained through a mixed-method approach based on the completion of 96 questionnaires and six follow-up interviews, in association with socio-constructivist principles.\ud \ud This research differentiates itself by being conducted specifically about students’ experience of the institutional VLE in a context of blended learning, with students based primarily on site, and study of languages. Although they may be considered as digitally literate, students’ response regarding their own experiences indicates that digital skills do not appear as readily transferable to formal learning contexts. Therefore, lecturers need to guide students in a structured and progressive manner in order to maximise their engagement with the VLE. In addition, it contributes further to knowledge by highlighting implications for pedagogical practices.
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